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Victoria Grizzlies edge Merritt and close in on Island crown

Mario Annicchiarico / Times Colonist
Photo Credit: Kyle Robinson Photography
FEBRUARY 11, 2017 10:42 PM

VICTORIA 5
MERRITT 4

The Victoria Grizzlies moved two points closer to a possible Island Division crown, outlasting the pesky Merritt Centennials 5-4 in B.C. Hockey League action on Saturday at The Q Centre.

Victoria is now four points up on the idle Powell River Kings with two games in hand. One of those games will be played today as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks pay a visit to Colwood at 2 p.m.

Nick Guiney’s goal, 26 seconds into the third period, held up as the game-winner on a tense evening for the announced crowd of 1,024.

“We said, in the game plan, that we needed to be up by more than two if we think we’re going to get through this game. They’re going to keep coming,” Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon said of the never-say-die Centennials.

“It’s frustrating when you keep getting those two-goal leads, then constantly giving up the next one.”

The Grizzlies twice led by a pair.

T.J. Friedmann opened the scoring at 17:06 of the first period for the Grizzlies, taking a quick, short pass from Keyvan Mokhtari and burying it up high, glove side on Merritt netminder Colten Lancaster.

The goals came fast and furious in the second period with Chase Bell tying it just 1:12 in, but the Centennials’ forward took a penalty shortly afterward and Victoria restored the lead on Jamie Rome’s power-play goal at 3:03.

Henry Cleghorn knotted it back up at 2-2 at 8:55, but Victoria’s Jake Stevens tallied for the 3-2 lead just 44 seconds later. Drayson Pears then gave the Grizzlies a 4-2 advantage at 17:14, but Zach Risteau cut it to 4-3 1:11 later on a Merritt power-play tally.

Guiney and Zach Bleuler traded third-period goals, the latter was the third power-play goal of the night for the visitors, who are No. 3 in the BCHL with the man advantage.

IN THE DEN: The Grizzlies will pay a special tribute today to long-time trainer and equipment manager Al Gillies, who lost his battle with cancer a year ago. Besides working for both the Grizzlies and the previous Victoria Salsa, Gillies also worked for today’s opponent from Salmon Arm. … Mokhtari is flying down to Colorado College on Monday for a visit on a potential scholarship and Pears will visit Alaska-Anchorage the following week.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter/tc_vicsports

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